To remember John Lewis, remember the real John Lewis — and his righteous fight

Many Americans, when they remember the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, reflexively turn to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, quoting selective passages about content of character. But my sister Joan, who stood under a shaded tent that day, making signs with freedom slogans for out-of-towners to raise high, had a different answer when I asked for her thoughts. Not to take anything away from King, she told me, “It wasn’t just that speech. It was all the speeches.” And what impressed her teenage self most were the words of a man who was just 23, a few years older than she was.

On that day, John Lewis was already stirring up the “good trouble” he favored when he said: “To those who have said, ‘Be patient and wait,’ we have long said that we cannot be patient. We do not want our freedom gradually, but we want to be free now!”

It was a speech that, in an early draft, was a tad fiery for some elders in the movement for equality and justice. Lewis did tone it down — but not enough to lose its urgency.

Some of the tributes to Lewis, who died last week at the age of 80, emphasized his generosity of spirit, evident in his ability to forgive and embrace those who beat him into unconsciousness. But the picture is incomplete without acknowledging the impatience, the fury to make it right, that saw him through more than three dozen arrests, five after he was elected to Congress. Just as those who would have been or probably were in that majority of Americans who considered King a rabble-rouser then and revere him now, many are all too eager to recast Lewis as a secular saint who just wanted everyone to get along.

Of course, they would. It would let them off the hook.

There is more than one way to be Black — and to be an American

Elijah McClain of Aurora, Colorado, was many things. The slight 23-year-old, who looked younger, was a massage therapist one client described as “the sweetest, purest person I have ever met.” He was a vegetarian who taught himself to play the guitar and violin and shared his musical gifts with shelter animals to calm them. Family members said he sometimes wore a ski mask because he was anemic and always cold, and perhaps to create some distance in a world he found overwhelming. (And aren’t we all supposed to be covering our faces these days.) In his final trip to a convenience store, though, he interacted with the clerk and customers, it seemed from video, offering a bow on his way out.

Did he look “sketchy” and “suspicious” to a 911 caller and police because he sang to himself on the walk home and waved his arms, perhaps conducting a symphony only he could hear? McClain told the police who stopped him, “I am an introvert, please respect the boundaries that I am speaking.”

The three officers escalated the confrontation, took him down with a hold that made him utter a too-often-heard refrain: “I just can’t breathe correctly.” One officer threatened to sic a dog on him. If they saw his quirks, his idiosyncrasies, his joy, it did not translate. If they heard his pleas, these enforcers of laws the young man had not broken did not listen. “You are beautiful and I love you,” he told them. He apologized for vomiting as police tossed around his 140-pound body before medics shot it up with strong drugs.

Now, Elijah McClain, who police say committed no crime, is dead.

Chaos is all Trump has, as he hopes ‘law and order’ appeal will work in GOP’s favor

The Queen of Soul sang it clearly. The “Respect” Aretha Franklin was craving — yes, demanding — in that classic is still in short supply for black Americans. More protesters have been arrested than police officers involved in the death of George Floyd, the black Minneapolis man who died after now-former officer Derek Chauvin held his knee on the handcuffed man’s neck for nearly nine minutes while three fellow officers stood by or assisted.

Would there have been protests across the country and the world if Chauvin and his fellow officers had been charged immediately? There is no way to know for sure. But it is clear that the anguished reaction has been about much more than the death of one man, and has been generations in the making.

An escape from reality is tempting, but America needs truth from its leaders

It was selfish to even ask the question: Will Broadway turn the lights back on in a month, as promised?

Turns out that’s doubtful, despite a goal of an April 12 reboot. Those tickets I had scored are worthless either way, since that particular show in previews, “Hangmen,” has announced it has permanently closed before it officially opened.

Considering New York’s many troubles — the mounting human toll of the coronavirus, the shortage of hospital beds and protective equipment for health workers, the many thrown out of jobs — the fate of one show is just one item on a long list of things shaken by the global pandemic. Many who are rationing supplies and struggling to replace lost wages couldn’t afford a Broadway ticket in the best of times.

So, yes, selfish. But understandable, when in a world of uncertainty and danger in possibly the air we breathe, and on every object or human we touch, escape and connection are things we crave. Friends are trying new recipes, joining online dance parties and yoga classes, adopting dogs and often channeling unexpected free time into worthy activities, like my talented niece sewing face masks for the medical health pros who desperately need them.

White House and Senate Agree on $2 Trillion Stimulus Deal

CHARLOTTE, NC — The white house and senate leaders reach a $2 trillion dollar stimulus deal to help Americans strained by the coronavirus outbreak.

Political contributor Mary C. Curtis is breaking down what the deal means for you.

POLITICAL WRAP: Voter ID; Pelosi Delay; Charlotte Homicides

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – It appears North Carolina voters will not have to show ID in March’s presidential primary. A Federal Court temporarily blocked new requirements set to go into effect next year. The decision can be appealed but that would be up to Democrat state Attorney General Josh Stein.

U.S. Senators return to Washington at the end of the week. But the question remains, how longer will Nancy Pelosi wait to deliver the articles of impeachment? Senate leaders remain at an impasse over whether there will be new witnesses and testimony in a Senate trial.

Closer to home, this year’s homicide rate in Charlotte is on track to be the worst since 1993. CMPD has investigated 108 murders so far. Mayor Vi Lyles says Charlotte is looking at data from other cities for ways to curb the violence.

POLITICAL WRAP: Impeachment Trial; Voter Rights; UK Election

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – After this week’s impeachment vote, debate will continue over a possible Senate trial. Majority leader Mitch McConnell says he’d like it to go quickly. But President Trump has talked about calling witnesses, ranging from Hunter Biden, to the whistleblower, to Congressman Adam Schiff.

Also, this week voting rights are back in the spotlight after a ruling by a circuit court judge in Wisconsin. 234,000 voters, flagged as having possibly moved, will be taken off the registry. The ruling is expected to hurt Democrats in a state President Trump won in 2016.

And in the UK, a landslide victory for Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the Conservative Party. Johnson is promising to “Get Brexit Done,” while President Trump calls the election result a possible “harbinger of what’s to come” in the 202o U.S. election.

As Democrats line up to debate, the GOP is regressing

OPINION — It was pretty startling, actually, viewing the lineup for the first debate of Democratic presidential hopefuls in April 2007 on a stage in Orangeburg, South Carolina. Among them were the usual suspects — Sens. Chris Dodd, John Edwards and Joe Biden. And then, there were surprises — Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico and Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

This is different, I thought. Whatever happens next, this looks like America, an America I had rarely experienced except in the aspirational promises of its founding documents, with the few exceptions of pioneers such as Shirley Chisholm or Jesse Jackson, when it came to choosing presidents.

When I covered the second Republican debate in May of that year, in Columbia, South Carolina, distinguishing between the candidates was a little tougher at first glance.

GOP greets North Carolina election scandal with crickets, excuses and misdirection

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — America might know the name of the next president before voters in North Carolina’s 9th District have a representative in the House.

OK, maybe that’s an exaggeration.

But one sure thing is that Mark Harris, the Republican who thought he won last fall, attended an orientation for new members of Congress and was picking out an office — won’t be the new congressman. He cited health reasons in taking himself out of the race that has no end in sight.

Kavanaugh Fight Goes Full On Knute Rockne

OPINION — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell this week lamented that Democrats would never be satisfied with a one-week FBI investigation of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, saying he expects “soon enough the goal posts will be on the move once again.” McConnell, going full Knute Rockne, also has said of the Kavanaugh nomination and investigation: “We’re going to be moving forward. I’m confident we’re going to win.”

Thankfully, the Kentucky senator did not channel another Republican, Ronald Reagan, with an exhortation that the win would be for “The Gipper.”

Still, McConnell sure knows his way around a sports metaphor. “So, my friends, keep the faith, don’t get rattled by all of this. We’re going to plow right through it and do our job,” McConnell said to religious conservatives at a recent Value Voters Summit, sounding like coach sending his star running back out to crash through the opponent’s defense.